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Utah House selects new committee leadership

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 24 2010 4:47 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — There's going to be a new House budget chairman next session: Rep. Mel Brown, R-Coalville.

Brown is a former House speaker who resigned his seat a decade ago after personal and professional controversy, then returned to the Legislature in 2006.

He was chosen for the key position after helping House Speaker-elect Becky Lockhart, R-Provo, unseat House Speaker Dave Clark, R-Santa Clara.

"There was a sense in the body we needed a change, a new look at the budget," Lockhart said. She turned to Brown because he is "someone with a lot of experience who has worked with the budget before and had a lot of institutional knowledge."

Longtime House budget Chairman Rep. Ron Bigelow, R-West Valley, will now head an appropriations subcommittee over infrastructure and government.

Clark, who has headed the Legislature's health care reform effort, will serve as chairman of the social services appropriations subcommittee.

Other changes include a new chairman for the powerful House Rules Committee, Rep. Wayne Harper, R-West Jordan. Harper replaces Rep. Ben Ferry, R-Corrinne, who was ousted at this year's state GOP convention.

Harper "is well-respected by the body," Lockhart said. "Everybody knows he is honest and upright."

Both the executive appropriations and the rules committees will have new vice-chairmen, too. Rep. John Dougall, R-American Fork, will be vice-chairman of executive appropriations, and Rep. Ryan Wilcox, R-Ogden, will fill the same position in rules.

Lockhart said the changes are to be expected with a new leader. "Whenever you have a change at the speakership, you're going to have a different way of doing things," she said. "It shouldn't be surprising."

Senate Republicans re-elected Senate President Michael Waddoups, R-Taylorsville, and the rest of their leadership team, so their committee reassignments, expected to be announced Monday, aren't likely to be as dramatic.

e-mail: lisa@desnews.com

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